Ethanol-induced neurodegeneration in NRSF/REST neuronal conditional knockout mice.

PMID 21396985


The transcription regulator, neuron-restrictive silencer factor (NRSF), also known as repressor element-1 silencing transcription factor (REST), plays an important role in neurogenesis and various neuronal diseases such as ischaemia, epilepsy, and Huntington's disease. In these disease processes, neuronal loss is associated with abnormal expression and/or localization of NRSF. Previous studies have demonstrated that NRSF regulates the effect of ethanol on neuronal cells in vitro, however, the role of NRSF in ethanol-induced neuronal cell death remains unclear. We generated nrsf conditional knockout mice using the Cre-loxP system to disrupt neuronal expression of nrsf and its truncated forms. At postnatal day 6, ethanol significantly increased the expression of REST4, a neuron-specific truncated form of NRSF, in the brains of wild type mice, and this effect was diminished in nrsf conditional knockout mice. The apoptotic effect of ethanol was pronounced in multiple brain regions of nrsf conditional mutant mice. These results indicate that NRSF, specifically REST4, may protect the developing brain from ethanol, and provide new evidence that NRSF can be a therapeutic target in foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).